Forklift Truck Safety
Forklift Truck Safety
The forklift truck has become the workhorse of modern warehousing operations. They allow us to move substantial loads with speed, ease, and relative safety. Forklifts, as these trucks are so often called, come in many makes, models, and sizes that can be configured with removable parts that make it possible to move just about anything in any industrial setting. Their ease of operation makes forklift operation easy to master but an operator must never forget he’s working with heavy industrial machinery that commands respect.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 100 workers every year are killed in accidents involving forklifts and 20,000 more are seriously injured. Training, licensing, and operator certification measures are so vital to forklift truck safety that private industry, the military, and government regulatory agencies at every level have developed programs to keep forklift operation as safe as possible.
Caption: Use a forklift inspection checklist like this one to log daily inspections
The safest forklift is the well-maintained forklift. At the beginning of every shift, a visual inspection of every forklift to be used will improve safety and increase productivity throughout the work day. A visual inspection at the end of every shift quickly identifies any vehicles that need maintenance or require cleaning before next use.
Checklist for VIsual Inspection
Forklifts are often employed in rugged conditions that leave them dirty, muddy, or covered with grime from any source. Clean machines are vital for optimum mechanical performance and safety. No one likes working in filthy conditions but dirt also hides defects that can lead to danger. Before using a forklift, consider this checklist for visual inspection:
Checklist for Operational Pre-Use Inspection
When conditions look good on and around the forklift, conduct an inspection to gauge how well the machine is running before tackling a day’s work. Make this checklist for operational pre-use inspection a routine part of every shift for every operator of every forklift on the job
It is vitally important to make sure every person who operates a forklift is fully trained and legally qualified to do so. It is equally important to have only fully qualified personnel to service and maintain every forklift.
Caption: Never use a coworker as counterweight to balance a load that’s too heavy or that must be lifted too high.
The basic function of a forklift is the same but every work environment comes with a unique set of situations and circumstances. Mastery of basic forklift operation is important but optimum safety comes when the operator knows how to effectively operate the machine in the environment where it will be put to work.
It’s human nature to minimize the danger of operating a forklift when it’s been done safely and routinely over time but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Vigilance is required every minute of operation.
The ride’s a little bit different when a forklift is carrying a heavy load or when it’s empty. Either way, safety always comes first. The safest forklift operator will make safe driving habits such a routine part of his workday that they become effortless, no matter if traveling with a full load or not.
Traveling on an Incline
Slopes and uneven work surfaces challenge forklift safety and require special maneuvers. When traveling on an incline:
There’s no power steering here so driver skill is all the more important. Important steering safety skills include:
Every forklift comes with a data plate fixed in place as handy reference for important information such as load limits. When loading a forklift:
Raising the Load
The forklift truck is least stable when its raising the load. The higher the load, the more unstable the machine. For optimum safety:
Pallets and forklifts work together like locks and keys but it’s not a fool-proof union. Caution in handling pallets is required for speed, efficiency, and to minimize the risk of accidents.
Loading or Unloading Straight Trucks, Tractor Trailers, Railway Cars
Tightly packed cargo, cramped spaces, and uneven or unsteady work surfaces make loading or unloading straight trucks, tractor trailers, railway cars, and other moveable cargo carriers exceptionally risky business. This is never the work of a rookie, never a training ground. Only highly skilled, well-trained forklift operators should attempt work in these environments.
Prepare the vehicle before loading or unloading begins. Be sure to:
During the loading or unloading process:
Special measures are necessary for working safely around railway cars:
Entering An Elevator with a Forklift Truck
Freight elevators can save a lot of time and travel bus command special respect when loading and unloading heavy machinery from them. Always obtain proper authorization before entering an elevator with a forklift truck and use them safely:
Even parked forklifts are dangerous if they’re not properly exited. For forklift truck safety round the clock, please:
Technological advances and government regulations make working with forklifts safer to operate with each new design or each new labor law but, ultimately, forklift truck safety depends on the operator. Respect is required at all times -- respect for the machine, respect for the work, respect for the workplace, and respect of the operator and all coworkers in the work zone.